[This post was written by Eveline van Everdingen and describes her M.Sc. project]
Working with multiple monitors is very common at the workplace nowadays. A second monitor can increase work efficiency, structure and a better overview in a job. Even in business video-conferencing, dual monitors are used. Although the purpose of dual monitor use might be clear to the multitasker, this behaviour is not always perceived as positive by their video-conferencing partners.
Gaze direction of the multitasker with the focus on the primary monitor (left), on the dual monitor (middle) or in between two monitors when switching (right).
Results show that multitasking on a dual screen or mobile device is indicated as less polite and acceptable than doing something else on the same screen. Although the multitasker might be involved with the meeting, he or she seems less engaged with the meeting, resulting in negative perceptions.
Effect of technology on politeness of multitasking
Improving the sense of eye-contact might result in a better video-conferencing experience with the multitasker, therefore a gaze-following tool with two webcams is designed (code available at https://github.com/een450/MasterProject ). When the multitasker switches to the dual screen, another webcam will catch the frontal view of the multitasker. Indeed, participants indicate the multitasking behaviour as being more polite and acceptable with the dynamic view of the multitasker. The sense of eye-contact is not significantly more positive rated with this experimental design.
These results show that gaze-following webcam technology can be successful to improve collaboration in dual-monitor multitasking.
For more information, read Eveline’s thesis [pdf] or visit the project’s figshare page.
Example of a video presented to the experiment participants.